The transformer has arrived

I’ve reviewed quite a number of tablets in this column and there will be more, I’m sure. None have been as different as the Transformer from Asus and that’s mostly a good thing.

By Magnus Nystedt

Published: Sat 18 Jun 2011, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:02 AM

Aptly named, the Transformer basically gives you a 10-inch Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet and PC netbook in one package. It looks very much like the first generation iPad from the outside, although with a different form factor. The transformer has a 16:9 display while iPad is 4:3, which means it’s more suitable for watching movies but less versatile to browse the web because in portrait orientation the display is too narrow.

Imagine two tablets put together screens touching and you know what the Transformer looks like. Open it up and it looks very much like a PC netbook. The mechanism that keeps the two parts together is not the easiest to operate but seems sturdy enough and Asus designers have done a good job of not making it into an eyesore.

As a tablet the Transformer is very good and competes well with the other 10-inch Honeycomb tablets in the market; it’s fast, the screen is good, and the touch is sensitive. With MicroSD card you can expand the memory and MiniHDMI port means you can connect to TV or projector to do presentations or watch movies. I won’t comment on Honeycomb here other than to say it’s much better suited to the larger screen than previous Android versions.

As a netback the Transformer is also pretty good although if you live the notebook idea you will find some things to struggle with. Although the keyboard is nice to type on, Asus has created new keys that you won’t find on a PC netback. Add to that, that Honeycomb is not an operating system built for keyboard and mouse, which comes through in various details. For example, you think hitting Ctrl+S would save whatever you’re working on? Not so. To be fair it may be up to the developers of apps to build in that support but why should they when Android 3 is not really built for use with keyboards?

The trackpad and mouse buttons work well enough but there’s something about the size and position that meant I kept accidentally touching it with my right thumb when typing on the keyboard. Adding the keyboard gives you two full-size USB ports, SD card slot and extra battery. Asus says that with the keyboard attached you should expect a total of 16 hours of use. Although I can’t really verify that, in my brief time with the Transformer I think it sounds about right.

Transformer represents a remarkable design and engineering feat by Asus and it is a great choice for someone who wants a tablet and netbook in one. Also, someone who is not sure which one to choose can now get two-in-one. It has its rough edges and quirks but overall I would say Asus has created a solid and exciting product.

Asus Transformer is Dh1899 for 16GB model (Dh2299 with keyboard) and Dh2299 for 32GB model (Dhs 2699 with keyboard).

Magnus Nystedt talks and writes about technology as much as he can. Follow him on Twitter as @mnystedt for the latest on consumer technology in the Middle East.

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